Updated: May 19
Coralee is the site coordinator at Sigma Burleson North Brick and Sigma Burleson South Texas Health (THR) locations. Today we interviewed her mainly on drowning prevention because Coralee is an advocate for drowning prevention in Burleson and Tarrant County.
Q: How did you get involved in the sport of swimming?
A: We lived in Lander, WY. My kids were 3 & 6 they joined the Lander Swim Club and had taken lessons as part of PE. Nicolaus swam his first swim meet in October at the annual Spook Splash - I will never forget this little kid who was swimming a 50 FLY ( had no business swimming a 50 - or maybe he did ) as all the other kids finished the 50 he was coming into the wall at 25 not looking like he could finish, a lifeguard tried to pull him out and he refused to quit - at that moment all lifeguards on deck were on high alert and the stands erupted cheering for the swimmer - I fell in love with the community. Amelia followed the year after with the Spook Splash being her first meet and state meet at 5 yrs. old.
Fast forward after a move to Texas, I started a summer “swim team” at Mistletoe Hill Community pool - really it was my kids and 3 or 4 other families. After 2 summers the kids joined the local TAAF Barracuda team for 2 years. Nicolaus joined the high school swim team and Amelia wanted to swim year-round - a conversation led to a phone call to Andrew Ha which led to Sigma starting in Burleson in 2012. The rest is history!
Q: Who do you think are one or more of the greatest swimmers ever and why?
A: I have to pick my kids, as I come to my end of being a swim mom ( Amelia will retire in February ) I can say because of the hundreds of swim meets, early mornings, pasta dinners, laundered towels and ultimately finding my true passion, I will forever be grateful to the memories and for being lead to my happy place.
Q: Thinking of the record breaking drownings in Texas this past summer, do you think there is more the media can in drowning prevention?
A: I currently sit on the Burleson Drowning Prevention Coalition, & Safe Kids with Cook Children's we are working to make sure the message is heard. We speak to local mom groups, we speak in schools and we participate in the water safety club, we work with the local fire department, pools and water park. Unfortunately, it is not enough … This year’s campaign is having to focus also on bathtubs. As much as I have a love for social media I also have a hate for the distraction people have in their hands. It is important that parents #lifeguardyourchild as well as get them into swim lessons. Drowning is silent and happens in a split second.
Q: What else would you like to see in drowning Prevention especially the very young children?
A: My goal is to have all kids in second grade get a week’s worth of lessons as part of PE, we have had some success but will continue to make sure all kids learn to swim before 3rd grade. We are exploring a program with USA swimming that will open an opportunity to work with kids under the age of 2.
Q: A 14-year old Sigma swimmer has come up with an idea to make swimming part of the physical education starting in elementary schools. Do you think that could happen in the future and how do you think that can be archived?
A: I am currently working in Burleson, Alvarado, Crowley, and Fort Worth one school at a time with elementary schools - So far this year we had 5 (500 kids) schools complete - 2nd grade kids attending a week worth of Drowning Prevention Lessons. There are some challenges with transportation and class time lost, but we continue to work through the challenges. We also have 1 private school in Fort Worth we are working on getting Pre-K through grade 8 through a week’s worth of lessons plus Drowning Prevention education. So yes, I do think it is possible - One swimmer, one class, one school, one district at a time.
Q: What do you tell a young child that is afraid of the water at his/her first swim lesson and how do you try to make it less scary for them?
A: This I leave up to my amazing staff, I simply introduce them! Oh, and I do have a secret weapon - rubber ducks.
Q: What role do you think should a swim parent should play?
A: 5 words only - Have fun I love you! It is important that parents leave the coaching to the coaches, don’t analyze your kids swims or practice - encourage your kids to have fun. Kids who have fun not only will do better at a meet but will stay longer in swimming. Make sure they get to practice, eat healthy and get enough sleep. Volunteer to TIME at Meets, Cheer Loud, and ENJOY every wet hug!
Q: If you were not involved in the sport of swimming what do you think you would be doing today?
A: At this moment I can’t even imagine doing anything else. I am extremely blessed to do what I LOVE - I get to work on marketing/social media, education, expansion, budgeting, customer relations, team building, parades, radio shows, staff development, hang out with firefighters, wear open toed shoes, play with snapchat & rubber ducks and let’s not forget wet hugs and the best